Producer David Heyman (Harry Potter) brings you the film adaption of the story from the beloved novels by Michael Bond. Paddington tells the story of the comic misadventures of a young, marmalade-loving Peruvian bear. Paddington bear (voiceover by Ben Whishaw) has grown up with his aunt and uncle since his real parents passed away.
Fascinated with the English culture, after a visit by an English explorer, the bears spend their days learning manners of the English and all 107 different ways to say “it is raining”. But when Paddington loses his home and uncle owing to an earthquake in Peru, his aunt sends him off on a journey to find the explorer in England, with the explorer’s hat and a tag around his neck that says “Please look after this bear. Thank you”. He soon discovers that city life is not quite as warm and welcoming as the traveller suggested, and far different from his life in the “darkest” Peru. At first, the bear is lost and lonely; under the thick and cloudy English sky, no-one pays him any attention except for a kit of troublesome pigeons who have taken an interest in the emergency marmalade sandwich he keeps under his hat. Not losing hope, the bear persists, standing at the platform of Paddington station looking utterly adorable, until the Browns, a family of five take notice and agree to temporarily take him in, much to Mr Brown’s dismay. With a little help from the Browns, Paddington soon finds a more familiar home in the hearts of these helpful strangers. All fear is not completely washed away, however. Paddington is one of the rarest of bears and is highly sought after by a museum taxidermist, Millicent (Nicole Kidman); the film’s own Cruella Deville. Paddington and his new friends must find a way to keep the bear from being turned into a museum display. Like many family animations, this movie does not fail to pull at the heart strings. I always feel like there is no completely new story under the sun; therefore it is not about what is in the story that is important but how the story is told. Because it was a children’s animation, it easily avoided being loaded with unnecessary dialogue or loopholes; the narrator provided the depth of the characters by filling in all the gaps, making it easier for the audience to connect with individual characters and understand their cause. Each character was hilarious in their own way, even the grumpy old Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi), who lives in the floor above the Browns. He epitomises what you would think to be the typical, grumpy old English man. He lives in a musty apartment and wears a night gown that matches his curtains and furniture – because let’s face it, even though he is in everybody’s business, he is not accommodating enough to be hosting anyone any time soon. Also strict, but not as bad, is Mr Henry Brown (Hugh Bonneville), an actuarial scientist who can predict the probability of even the least likely of accidents – all to keep his children away from danger. You can see that he would clearly do anything for his kids, even if it means defying his probability calculations and risking his own life for the sake of the bear. His wife is Mrs Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins), an eccentric woman with an odd dress sense who enjoys exploring the city’s sewers because “they can take you anywhere you want to go”. Mrs Brown loves Paddington and like so many mothers are portrayed, she is the soft-but-stern voice of reason in Mr Brown’s hard head. The two children, Judy and Jonathan Brown couldn’t be more different. Unlike her younger brother, who immediately gets along with the bear, Judy suffers from a common condition found in self-conscious pre-teen girls; embarrassment. Without knowing it, Paddington helps her feel comfortable in her own skin and helps her sharpen her best traits in a way that allows her to be more inclusive of her family. I must add that I also really loved the soundtrack. I mean I really loved it. The soundtrack featured a five-piece calypso band. I think this added a warm element to the cold and wet atmosphere of what we think England to be. The soundtrack provided a melodic backdrop to the feel of the film, with songs that were reflective of what the bear may have been feeling as a lonely immigrant in a fast-paced city, just trying to find a place to belong. The creators of this film could easily have made the movie exhausting by filling it with all the things that could go wrong to Paddington. But they kept the plot fresh, and allowed the artistic direction to support the mood that they wanted to incite in the audience. Paddington is a delightfully funny movie with a solid story line and strong characters. According to my own probability calculations, if I were to watch it again I know I am likely to enjoy it just as much as I had the first time.